Just the idea of talking to a psychologist is enough to make many of us need a psychologist. It’s scary, right? The idea that this one person is in charge of saying whether or not you’re mentally and emotionally competent to enter into a surrogacy arrangement can feel really stressful.
We get it.
What you should know about these psychological evaluations is that, while stressful, they are also incredibly important to the surrogacy journey as a whole. They’re important to you, and to your intended parents, because these evaluations prove that everyone entering into the surrogacy agreement is of sound mind and knows what they are agreeing to.
Here’s how to prepare for and survive your psychological screening:
First, a word of advice to our independent surrogates. In an effort to save funds, some intended parents may be willing to skip this step. This might feel like a blessing in disguise for you, but trust us, you want to meet with a mental health expert before starting a surrogacy journey. And it should be a mental health expert who specializes in reproductive psychology.
This is an important part of your screening, and gives you the chance to talk openly and honestly with a third party expert about any concerns you may have. Don’t skip this step. No matter how sure you feel of yourself.
The psychological evaluation should be seen as a unique opportunity to ask real questions and talk about potential concerns that you may have long before you’re ever pregnant.
Many surrogates fear that if they express any hesitation or doubts that they will fail their psych screening. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Now would be the best time to think of and write out any relevant questions or concerns you may have in regards to the surrogacy journey. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your exam. Doing so not only helps you to look emotionally mature, it also turns the evaluation from an interview to a conversation, and that will help you relax.
The basic format of the psychological evaluation includes a face to face meeting. In most cases this is done in person, but as technology advances, is being completed via video messaging services like Skype and Zoom more and more frequently. Either avenue is appropriate. During the conversation, the professional will just want to have a conversation with you.
Common questions include:
Why do you want to be a surrogate?
What does your support system look like?
How do you know you won’t want to keep the child once he or she is born?
How do you manage stress?
What do you do to relax?
Do you have plans for your compensation?
This can feel very much like an interrogation. We understand that. But it certainly isn’t intended to make you feel anxiety or stress.
Perhaps the best advice we can give you is to be yourself, and be honest. About everything.
Not only do you want to be honest because deception will likely be detected (remember, you’re talking to a doctor who is well trained in how to recognize deception, no matter how good you think you are at lying) and make you look bad, it’s also important to be honest so that the professional can assess your personality and potential success at dealing with the stress that comes with surrogacy. There are not a lot of answers that you can give that will disqualify you, but deception and dishonesty almost certainly will. So, be open, honest, and sincere in your responses.
Many psychologists will also ask you to take a lengthy computer generated personality assessment. The MMPI, PAI, or similar test assesses many things, and again, checks for deception and certain personality markers. It is important to think about your replies, but not to overthink them. These questions are usually multiple choice or true/false in format, and are not meant to “trick” you.
One potential tip for success is to think about the type of questions you may be asked in advance of your screening and give them some real thought. Having a real, well thought out answer to the interviewer’s questions is a good way to feel secure in yourself, and look mature and prepared to the mental health professional.
In all, this assessment rarely takes more than an hour. If you approach it well prepared and give honest answers, it should be far less stressful that you’re fearing.